Employee training, anyone who has had a job has gone through it and ask a handful of people about their experience with employee training and you’re likely to get a negative recollection of how boring it was.
But it’s easier than you think to make courses more focused, engage learners, and positively influence behaviors. And employees who are engaged in their training will retain more information, are more likely to pay close attention to their work, ensure that all procedures and processes are being properly followed and that they are performing to the best of their abilities.
In this article we’ll provide you with a step by step guide to create high-quality, engaging training courses that employees can reminisce about fondly. We'll cover establishing your learning aims and objectives, designing your training session, and preparing the content. We'll define what learning aims and objectives are while differentiating the two. We'll go over method of delivery, how to put your objectives into logical order and structure your training session, how to choose your content, resources and activities.
Establishing Learning Aims & Objectives
For a training to be engaging, it's content should be relevant to the learner. This means the content should stay on track and it should not be unnecessarily long. A great way to achieve that is by clearly defining learning aims and objectives that will guide you during the entire training project.
What is a learning aim?
A learning aim is a brief statement that describes the overall goal that a training session is designed to deliver. It's often the first statement your trainees will read when beginning a course, and should instantly assure them that they've come to the right place to meet their training needs. For example, a learning aim typical of a contact center could be:
This training session will introduce contact center agents with best practices for handling calls, enabling them to deliver high quality customer service in an efficient way.
This learning aim describes what the training session will give the trainees, and the positive effect it will have on their abilities as contact center agents. Learning aims are derived from a number of sources, including:
- Training Needs Analysis: Learning aims are a direct result of a Training Needs Analysis, because its purpose is to discover the training needs of the organization and its staff.
- Subject Matter Expertise: Your own expertise, or that of a subject matter expert, of both the topic and the details of the training session will indicate what you include in your learning aim.
- Previous Iterations of the Training Session: If the training session has previously been delivered by other trainers, then the learning aim (and the objectives) may already have been defined. However, it's advised that you review your learning aim (and your objectives) at regular intervals to ensure they remain relevant to both the content and overall goal of the session.
How Do We Write Learning Aims?
While there is no definitive format to writing lear
ning aims, there are some guidelines you're advised to follow to ensure the aim is clear to you, your stakeholders and learners. The learning aim must clearly describe the desired outcome of the training session and it should be brief and succinct. It is recommended that the aim should be no more than three or four sentences in length.
What is a Learning Objective?
Learning objectives are concise descriptions of how we plan to achieve the learning aims. They describe the objectives for the learning unit on the operational level and in more detail than the learning aims. For example, a learning objective typical of a contact center could be:
By the end of this training session, you’ll be able to define the main sections of an effective call opening.
This learning objective provides a clear instruction of what the trainee should be able to achieve by the end of the session, emphasized by direct language such as "you will". The action is also measurable, meaning it can be assessed by the trainer using a variety of means. For instance, the trainee can be asked to list the features that make up a standard call opening, thus demonstrating that they have acquired this new ability.
Learning Objectives Vs Learning Aims
The learning aim is a higher level target than learning objectives. In fact, all learning objectives should jointly assure the overall learning aim will be achieved. Also, the learning aim focuses more on the desired outcome from the organization's perspective, whereas learning objectives focus more on the student.
Learning objectives differ from learning aims in the following ways:
- They're focused on the actions and abilities of the learner.
- They begin with an action verb.
- They are specific.
Explain, modify, prioritize, and compile are common examples of verbs used in learning objectives, but the possible options are plentiful.
Design a Training Session
1. Choose the Method of Delivery
Below are the forms of delivery common to contact centers:
- Instructor-led (Face-to-face): This traditional form of training delivery is still the most popular today, mainly for its face-to-face communication, and the power it gives you to improvise and adapt when required.
- Online (E-learning): As technology and design techniques continue to improve, so does the effectiveness and reputation of online learning. In many cases this may be the preferred means of delivery, for reasons such as the number of trainees, geographical locations, or cost.
- Blended (Instructor-led and Online): As the name suggests, blended learning combines both instructor-led training and online learning. This method allows trainees to gain the benefits of face-to-face training, with the opportunity to continue their learning beyond the classroom walls.
2. Put Learning Objectives into a Logical Order
From the analysis stage of the training cycle, you’ll have a list of learning objectives which will give you the topics for your training plan. Next, you'll put these learning objectives in a logical order starting at a basic level and progressing to advanced.
Below is an example of how you could arrange the learning objectives for a training course on Handling Difficult Callers.
By the end of this session, you'll be able to:
- Define the benefits of handling difficult calls with professionalism and sensitivity.
- Recognize a potentially difficult caller.
- Apply techniques to handle a difficult caller.
As you can see from this example, the trainees will begin by learning the basics of why it's important to handle difficult calls professionally. They will then progress onto more complex learning objectives such as recognizing potentially difficult calls. Finally, the
y will move onto techniques that can be applied to control such situations. This is your learning curve taking shape.
3. Structure Your Training Session
Once you've decided on the topics you need to cover, your next task is to break them down into a structure of training activities. In most cases your training sessions will follow a similar format. Below is an example of what a training session for Handling Difficult Callers might look like:
- Activities for Learning Objective 1: Handling difficult calls with professionalism & sensitivity
- Activities for Learning Objective 2: Recognize a potentially difficult caller
- Activities for Learning Objective 3: Control a call from a difficult caller
- Summary Activity
- Assessment quiz
4. Preparing your Content, Resources, or Activities
With your training plan taking shape, now is the time to decide what activities and resources will form the content of your training session. The approach you take can come in many different forms depending on the target audience and the nature of the training itself. Instead of asking what will work best for you, think to yourself, what will work best f
or the content. Some common training methods include:
- Flip Charts are a popular, low cost, and low tech approach for interacting with your trainees. You present your own ideas and results on flip charts, but you can also use them to immediately record input, feedback, and ideas.
- Videos are a great option when you wish to get across a lot of information in a short time. Video can also be extended to mastering specific job functions through screen capture software. This software allows you to easily annotate your recordings with notes or point out specific instructions.
- Presentations can have a great impact on any size of a group. Presentations are best geared towards information exchange rather than skill development.
- Audio can provide a quick, cost-effective alternative to text and one which is easily updated. This method can be especially useful for contact cen
ters when much of the contact is through calls.
- Handouts are a great option when your training content is too detailed to fit on a slide. Handouts are all about timing. Given too early, you run the risk of confusing the trainee, but when given too late they can lose their value.
- Whiteboards are a good option for developing an explanation, presenting diagrams, and simple headings. They're also an alternative to flip charts for recording interactions with trainees.
If you are creating training material for the first time or you are struggling to keep your training sessions engaging, try starting from the foundation of establishing your learning aims and objectives. Then try implementing some of your takeaways from this article into designing your training session, and preparing the content. And come back, as we plan to cover more on the topic of training in some of our upcoming articles!